Deep in the heart of Cajun Country in Lafayette, Louisiana, sits Ace Specialties, LLC, a promotional products business founded by Christl Mahfouz in 2007. Her company initially sold safety gloves for workers in the oil and gas industry and has since morphed into a multimillion-dollar enterprise that offers marketing services, website design and a full-production fulfillment center for companies and organizations of all sizes.
Ace Specialties also boasts a high-profile client recognizable the world over: the POTUS. Since 2015, the company has sold more than $23 million in hats, yard signs, stickers, decals and clothing promoting President Trump’s campaign. When Ace Specialties earned the distinction as the official merchandiser for Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., you could say it was a “yuge” moment for Mahfouz. Here’s how she earned the business and what she has learned along the way.
What has been one of your proudest moments as a business owner?
I will never forget the immense feeling of pride and joy that I felt on election night when Donald J. Trump became president-elect.
How did you earn the distinction of providing logoed products for President Trump’s campaign?
With the oil and gas industry being hit hard in 2015, our sales dropped in half and I found myself not knowing how I was going to pay my bills. I prayed each night asking God for direction and where He wanted me to be next. As soon as Donald Trump announced he was running for president, I saw people in the background of videos wearing Trump merchandise they made for themselves. I knew that was my new direction. I then connected with a member of the team who gave me the opportunity to pitch my business.
What was it like presenting to President Trump and his staff?
This moment was one of the most special moments of my career thus far. We went to New York and initially did a Shark Tank-style presentation to the campaign team. Later, the team called President Trump and had him look at everything. I knew the numbers, the website and the presentation, but I also knew that my company would be able to get the job done. He asked me how fast I could get the program started. I simply asked him to give me one week and I would have a full-blown fulfillment center stocked with merchandise ready to go. Shortly after, we set up the fulfillment center and established a partnership that continues to this day.
What did you learn from the experience?
I learned that believing in yourself and your company can lead to opportunities you would not think possible.
Did you receive any feedback—positive or negative—from your community for working on Trump’s campaign?
Our hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, is known for its warm and friendly culture and incredible hospitality. We are blessed to be accepted by our community and are thankful to be one of the many partners that contribute to fulfilling President Trump’s promise to America.
Since opening your business in 2007, what has been your biggest lesson?
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that people are the most important factor in making a business successful. Appropriately managing people is crucial to building a cohesive team that can accomplish both personal goals and the goals of our clients.
What do you think sets your business apart?
We are a small business with local roots comprised of a team of large-scale thinkers who are not afraid of hard work. Our team knows the ins and outs of promotional products and apparel, and will always guide our clients to purchasing the right products to advance their brand and meet the needs of their customers.
You’re involved in many charities and nonprofits. Is there a cause that’s especially important to you?
My best friend and I started a nonprofit raising money for St. Jude Hospital called Sky High. Supporting children with cancer has always had a special place in my heart, and bringing joy to both the patients and their families is something I will cherish forever.
What advice or words of wisdom would you share with other women thinking about launching a company?
Go with your gut and stay confident in your abilities.
Do you have a mantra you live by?
I have two mantras that I like to live by. The first: Live life like there is no tomorrow. Also, this quote from Richard Branson has always stuck out to me: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes and then learn how to do it later.”
Pictured: Christi Mahfouz and her team offer a one-stop-shop for
political campaign management, marketing strategies and fulfillment services.
Audrey Sellers is a Dallas, Texas-area writer and former associate editor for PPB.
Photos provided by Face Magazine